The Nightmare Beginning Anew is the ninth chapter in Final Fantasy VII, and the final chapter of the first act, "Banner of Revolution". While infiltrating the Shinra Building, Cloud Strife, Barret Wallace, Tifa Lockhart, Aerith Gainsborough, and Red XIII are captured and placed in a jail cell in the building. The group work on an escape plan to flee the building and leave Midgar.
After President Shinra dismisses the party, the player controls Cloud in a prison cell with Tifa. Cloud must talk to each of the characters by walking up to the door and selecting one, though the choices here can affect date mechanics. Cloud can talk to Tifa next to him repeatedly, and answering "Leave it to me" to her repeatedly will increase Cloud's affection score with her by +1 each time; conversely, answering "Kinda hard" will reduce it by 1 each time. Who Cloud talks to first after approaching the door also affects Cloud's affection score with them; talking to Aeris or Barret first will raise their score by +3, talking to them second will raise it by +1, while talking to them third will cause no score change. After talking to all of them and approaching the door again, the only option is to sleep.
The next morning, the cell door will have opened. The next goal is to head out and inspect the fallen Shinra guard at the end of the hallway, and then wake Tifa up. Next, Cloud should free Barret and Red XIII in their cell, talk to them again after they inspect the guards, and then talk to Aeris and Tifa in Aeris's cell.
Tifa and Aeris briefly form a party with Cloud, with the goal being to follow the blood on the floor. Here, new enemies can be encountered: the Brain Pod, Vargid Police, and Zenene. Brain Pods and Zenene are stronger enemies that attempt to poison (or inflict Sleep in the case of Brain Pod), but can be damaged if Cure is cast on them. Vargid Police can attempt to paralyze and can reduce a party member's HP by 3/16ths if they use their Suicide attack, meaning they should be killed quickly, but have lower HP relatively.
After following the blood up to floor 70, the party finds President Shinra dead. After a scene, they must head out through the door and confront Rufus Shinra.
Fleeing with Aeris
After talking with Rufus Shinra, the player is given control of a party led by Aeris, comprising her, Barret, and Red XIII. Given the option to remove Cloud and Tifa's Materia, doing so gives Aeris' party more options, and there is a chance to switch back Cloud's Materia when control shifts to him soon. A few boss battles are approaching, in which Aeris and Red XIII will need at least one offensive Magic Materia because the upcoming bosses are out of range of melee attacks. Equipping either with Lightning also helps exploit the boss' weaknesses, and at least one character should have Restore (preferably Barret as he can use his physical attacks).
Aeris' party should head to the elevator at the bottom end of the screen. Entering the elevator will trigger two consecutive boss fights, beginning with Hundred Gunner. Its attacks are not too significant, but remaining near full HP is desirable due to the boss that follows. Barret's ranged attacks are sufficient, along with Limits, while Aeris and Red XIII will rely on magic. Though its attacks are not significant, it should nonetheless be defeated as soon as possible.
Once Hundred Gunner is defeated, Heli Gunner takes its place. Heli Gunner deals considerably more damage with its attacks, but has less HP. It is important to destroy Heli Gunner quickly, as its attacks can deal significant damage to a character and kill them from half HP. Heli Gunner should be destroyed before it can get off too many attacks.
After Aeris' party destroys Heli Gunner, the player controls Cloud in a single fight with Rufus and Dark Nation. Before the fight, the player can alter Cloud's equipment. Cloud should be given the Restore Materia in order to sustain himself for the fight, and giving him another Magic Materia is preferable.
Rufus begins the fight with Barrier from Dark Nation, reducing his damage from physical attacks. Cloud should focus on defeating Dark Nation first to prevent it also using MBarrier, reducing magic damage taken by Rufus. Once Dark Nation is defeated, Rufus is the final target. Rufus' attacks are not insignificant, but if Cloud can heal through them, he can sustain damage from them before then defeating Rufus.
After Rufus is beaten, the player controls Aeris again briefly on floor 1. As Aeris, the player can visit the shop on the first floor and read a Turtle's Paradise flyer, which cannot be read after leaving this building, but there is little more to do. Aeris should head to the front entrance of the building in the bottom-right, at which point a scene will commence.
Following this, the player controls Cloud in a motorcycle. Before this, controls for the minigame are presented on-screen, and the player can form a party. Including Aeris is ideal due to her Healing Wind Limit, but not necessary. The chosen party should be given sufficient Materia; one character should have Restore, and linking it with the All Materia is preferable. The boss that follows is weak to Lightning and mostly deals (and resists against) Fire, meaning the Elemental Materia can be used on a weapon with Lightning or on armor with Fire on one character to exploit this. The battle will begin as a back attack, meaning it is also wise to place the characters in the opposite of their usual rows.
The goal of the minigame is to destroy the enemy bikers while protecting Shinra Hauler SA-37 with the party members. Cloud can either ram into them, or use the corresponding button to swing his sword left or right and destroy them. If a party member is defeated in the minigame, they will start the next boss battle with 1 HP (meaning they will be defeated immediately).
After the minigame ends, a fight with Motor Ball begins. The boss battle is a back attack; if the player did not reverse the party's row, they should use Change to fix their rows to the ideal position. Motor Ball's attacks will hit the entire party, meaning Aeris's Healing Wind or using Cure paired with All can protect against it. Bolt can be used offensively against Motor Ball to deal considerable damage, and as the boss resists Fire damage, the only spells that should be used are Bolt and Ice. The boss has high HP, which can be whittled away over time, but playing defensively is important as it is crucial that the party stay well above half health to avoid being taken out.
After this, the act "Banner of Revolution" is concluded, and the next chapter, "The Tragedy of Five Years Ago", takes place.